Marciana the Martian (now called “of Mauretania” because Martian has come to mean little green men from Mars) grew up in 3rd Century Mauretania, Algeria. She was a nice Catholic girl living in a Pagan Roman town just doing what nice Catholic girls did back then – pledging her perpetual virginity to Christ and leaving home at a ridiculously young age to go live in a cave in the nearby mountains.
After some time in the solitude of the mountains, Marciana came back into town for a visit. Coming in through the Tipasia Gate, the first thing she saw was a marble statue of the goddess Diana, a larger than life work with a pool of water at its feet. Outraged by the mere sight of the goddess’s image, Marciana launched herself at it, managing to wrest it from its base, breaking off the head, and smashing the rest of the edifice into rubble.
The people of the town weren’t too keen on having her smash up their artwork, no matter how valid she thought the reason was, and a mob dragged our girl to the Praetorium and into the presence of the imperial magistrate. He took one look at her and gave her over to his gladiators to “amuse themselves.” The gladiators might have had permisson from their boss, but a crazy chick with divine assistance wasn’t quite up their alley, and none of them could bring themselves to touch her. Instead of abusing her, one of them listened to what she had to say and converted to Christianity on the spot.
Angrier than ever, the magistrate ordered Marciana to be tied to a stake in the area and fed to a lion, but once the gate was opened, the lion was no more interested in ravishing her than the gladiators had been.
Desperate to see her killed, the magistrate then released an enraged bull into the arena who wasn’t as timid as the lion. The bull charged Marciana and gored her in the chest, but our girl hung on, still singing praises to the Glory of God.
Finally a leopard was sent in to see her off, and he did what none of the others had – won for her a martyr’s crown.
Image credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons